Misogyny Insults My Intelligence

black heart

Pink is for losers. (Image credit: scutajar)

Dear Dr. Bumblepuppy,

We wish to express our utmost gratitude for gracing our restaurant with your presence on Valentine’s Day.  However, we regret to inform you that your little princess is no longer welcome at our establishment.  That wench exuded womanly noise from the moment you exited your car, and not in a fun way.  Yelling, screaming, wailing, tears flooding her make-up and creating a mess for our janitors.  We have never heard anyone insult our staff, our food, and our existence so much as she did; she will be lucky if our other patrons do not sue her for ruining their romantic evening with her “vocal talents,” as you so euphemistically described her screeching.

In closing, we wish you a swift recuperation from the injuries you incurred on our premises.  The hot coffee in your face and the knee in your crotch were most assuredly not deserved.  The average dog has more respect for men and the culinary arts than that thing you call a woman.  We hope you will consider saving yourself further physical, psychological, and financial torture by dumping the broad.

With warmest regards,

Matthew G. Thomas
Manager, White Castle
1106 Old Myers Bridge Avenue

Children’s Vegetables Insult My Intelligence

Sorry.  You came to the wrong place if you were expecting a post about Spongebob brand baby carrots.  Like Spongebob, those carrots are supposed to be presumably harmless to the at-least-semi-average human of youthful age.

Instead, I’d like to chat about other foods that children don’t usually like.  For example, chilies.  Here in the non-southwestern US, folks have a tendency to use fewer ingredients that impart a noticeably strong flavor and/or punishment to their tongues.  Needless to say, chilies are a tougher sell in this climate than in others, especially to kids who don’t want to eat anything that doesn’t contain chocolate or breast milk.

And so some brilliant nomenclaturist discovered the world’s hottest chili.  It is around 250 times hotter than a jalapeno, which puts it a lot closer to pepper spray than to anything you normally put in your mouth on purpose.

Seriously, I’m not joking.

Red means stop.  (Photo credit: Thaumaturgist)

Red means stop. (Photo credit: Thaumaturgist)

Food heat is measured in scoville units.  Jalapenos range from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units.  Pepper spray is two million Scoville units.  This chili weighs in at one million.

And they decided to call it a “ghost chili.”  Does that sound like something your child would pick up in the store and bite into because it sounds cool?

I thought so.  On the other hand, maybe that will teach them a very important lesson.  For example, they can learn to avoid vegetables.

With apologies for the bad pun, the resulting tongue damage is why the younger generation has such bad taste.  It’s not Bieber’s fault for once.

Dead Food Insults My Intelligence

Old and dusty foodstuffs are mummifying in my pantry.

Come on, admit it.

Admit it.  Your pantry needs cleaning too.  (Photo credit: slworking2)

We all go through phases where we eat a lot of one thing and then change to something else for one reason or another. After that, cans and bottles and jars and boxes just sit and sit and sit and sit until we have to make a decision on whether to throw them away.

The environmentalist in us wants to say that the 10-year-old can of tomatoes is still good because the tomatoes aren’t moldy and they don’t smell bad.  We shouldn’t waste so much food.

The hypochondriac in us wonders why we allowed ourselves to inhale the vapors of those 10-year-old-tomatoes.

The biologist in us wants to put those tomatoes under a microscope because there’s probably some pretty nifty stuff growing on there.

The chemist in us realizes that the can had probably released enough carcinogens into those tomatoes to make them poisonous to whatever interesting microorganisms we may have found.

Our ER doctor realizes that those chemicals can also be toxic to us not-so-micro organisms.

Our local mortician is grateful for the proliferation of mummified foodstuffs. You’d think that the availability of cost-free mummification would hurt a mortician’s business, but…

New Year’s Resolutions Insult My Intelligence

trake za trcanje i trkaci

Buy your gym membership today and don’t forget to stock up on protein shakes and other expensive supplements. (Photo credit: trcanje)

New Year’s Day (n): Conveniently situated right after a monthlong sequence of gluttonous holidays, it’s the world’s most lucrative advertising opportunity for gyms, Weight Watchers, diet pills, and exercise equipment.  It happens far enough in advance of Valentine’s Day candy for people to forget how quickly their new year’s resolution dies every year.

Blogger’s note: walking or jogging in the park costs nothing even though fresh air may be hazardous to your health.  The trees won’t judge you if you move slowly…

Financial Preoccupations Insult My Intelligence

To close out this most materialistic season of the year, I would like to extend a helpful hint to all of you who are planning New Year’s parties:

Mother of Pearl spoons with sturgeon caviar an...

Mother of Pearl spoons with sturgeon caviar and salmon roe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are wholly justified in worrying about what people will think about you if you do not put out expensive food.  After all, the party is designed to display your nonexistent wealth because that’s all your friends care about.  And they will never forget the deep fried caviar you serve up with tartar sauce to mask the slight char on the outside…

Thanksgiving Mishaps Insult My Intelligence

It’s time for some Thanksgiving fun (torture?) courtesy of Edna St. Vincent Millay, me, and the liquor cabinet.

Portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1933-01-14)

Portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1933-01-14) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.

My turkey burns at both ends
We will not eat tonight.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
Chinese sounds good, alright?

2.

My turkey’s frozen at both ends
It will not thaw tonight.
And ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It will be hard to bite.

3.

Cranberry sauce is on my hands
It will not wash off right.
And now my bros are not my friends
They used red dye last night…

4.

My bowels are queasy at both ends
They will give off a fright.
So ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
The toilet’s mine tonight.

5.

This bread is moldy at both ends
A sandwich won’t look right.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
The stuffing will be bright.

6.

The football moves towards both ends
The score is close tonight.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
Unplug the game, I might.

Big Juicy Bones Insult My Intelligence

turkey leg

(Photo credit: briface)

Visiting the farmer’s market is always fun.  Today, I bought turkey legs and I am very happy with my purchase.  In the United States, chickens and turkeys are bred for their breast meat and the remaining parts end up being a lot less expensive.  In other parts of the world, the breast is considered the least tasty part of a bird other than the feathers.  Having lived outside of the U.S., I had the opportunity to gain an appreciation for dark meat.

However…

I learned something from my visit today.  I asked for three turkey legs and they gave me the ones that looked like they came from a pterodactyl.  So they sold me as much product as possible while still following my instructions.  And I’m sure the next person, if he asked for 3 pounds of turkey legs, would have received the smallest of the bunch.  That means more bone and less meat for the same price… and the store wins again.  (There is proportionally more bone per pound in a small turkey leg than in a large one.)

So, if you would rather gnaw on a nice meaty leg instead of a big juicy bone, order your meat by number of pieces, not weight.

American Bread Insults My Intelligence

Russian black bread

(Photo credit: BryanAlexander)

I’m one of those types who rarely eats in chain restaurants and can cook for myself instead of eating a lot of prepackaged meals.  On a typical day, you might find my food snobbery obnoxious.

Today, I’m going to change course and recommend a thoroughly unfresh packaged food to my American readers: bread.  Although one can occasionally find good fresh bread in this country, the offerings are few and far between.  You may not know this, but the flour used in much of our bread is heavily processed and, as a result, the product turns out insubstantial and probably a lot less healthy.

Bread should be like a brick or thereabouts.  Think of bagels, naan, and pita bread.  These pack a lot more density than the standard loaves we normally find.  So when I have the opportunity, I like to buy a packaged eastern European bread that’s heavier than overcooked meatloaf and it’s shipped in from over 1000 miles away.  And I take it home and put it in the refrigerator where it lasts a while… even without all the preservatives in the standard grocery store fare.

I’m sure a refrigerated brick must sound really tasty to you.  Thing is, the toaster revives it.  It doesn’t come out tough either.  (My teeth are all still in place.)

This must be why so few Americans can tolerate whole wheat bread and other healthy options.  The substance (especially the flavor) has all been processed away.  And it’s not just dark bread that’s damaged over here; I get a great loaf of French bread from my local farmer’s market that in no way resembles what you would recognize as “French bread.”  It’s also less expensive than what the grocery store sells.

So do yourself a favor and expand your bread horizons.  Your tongue and colon will be glad you did.  And if you don’t want to be too health conscious, try some fatty cold cuts on it.   The toasted bread melts a lot of the fat and the result is unbelievable.  I’m not adventurous (or brazen) enough to try lardo (which is almost entirely fat), but a good pancetta, Polish bacon, or Russian ham works great.

Disclaimer: the blogger is not responsible for any heart attacks resulting from following this culinary advice.  However, he will take credit for your improved digestive health.  You’re welcome.

Educational Emotion Insults My Intelligence

When I was in high school, one of my teachers passionately advocated on poverty issues.  She didn’t invoke a political ideology, choosing to focus on people instead.  And she probably understood that politicizing education accomplishes little more than alienating half of one’s audience.

Unfortunately, her wisdom ended there.

Pizza, Frozen food

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day she decided to explain how the grocery store experience differs for people on food stamps.  So she asked us to imagine the horror of going shopping and not being able to afford the fresh pizzas in the prepared foods section.  Food stamps only cover the frozen pizzas!    Looking back, it makes me wonder why poor people aren’t marching on Washington to demand freedom of choice.

Probably because they can’t afford the frozen pizzas either.

But if they can, could you please send some of those food stamps my way?

Fortunately, my teacher realized that poverty entails more than an absence of fresh Italian food.  Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to communicate that.  Soon after this, she decided to show a short video about global hunger… produced by Oxfam, I think.  I don’t remember any substantial content in the video (although my high school years were long ago) but I can still picture the oft-repeated catchphrase projected on the full screen: “CHRONIC PERSISTENT HUNGER.”  After the fifth time the narrator repeated this mantra, everyone’s eyes had gone numb from constant rolling.

One needs considerable skill to turn an audience against an anti-poverty message that contains no political provocation… even if that audience is a room full of teenagers.  But the teacher succeeded with that video because it didn’t even attempt to temper its exclusively emotional appeal.

And then the time came to discuss sustainable eating.  After pointing out how much grain it takes to raise an animal, my teacher suggested that everyone go on a diet of beans and rice.  According to her, it’s sufficiently nutritious and the unused grain could be used to feed impoverished nations.

Let’s forget for a moment that lots of food presently rots in silos and warehouses (etc.) and that our culinary decisions aren’t going to change that.  And let’s ignore the fact that my teacher probably wasn’t practicing what she preached.  Instead, let’s consider the sanity behind proposing food to teenagers solely on the basis of its nutritive value.  Or to adults for that matter.

Now think about Cajun or Indian food.  If she had cooked up a good recipe and given out samples, we would have gladly eaten it.  (We probably would have thought it tasted like chili.)   You catch more flies with garam masala than with pontification.

I think most of us will eat something if it tastes good and isn’t made from rat testicles.

And now I have something harder for you to swallow than rodent gonads.

The students were justified in gagging on the garbage we were being fed, even if opposition to eliminating poverty is morally suspect.  Minds that learn to embrace empty propaganda will continue to do so when the propaganda begins serving darker goals.

Sometimes the greatest enemy to positive social change is advocacy for social change.

Pass the bacon.

The Poor Man’s Snobbery Insults My Intelligence

You may think that only rich people can be snobs.  I intend to prove you wrong.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I like international grocery stores.  Besides the selection of food, the products are usually cheaper and sometimes significantly so.  For instance,  you can find spices for obscenely low prices; the brand name companies represented at your regular grocery store sell you a small bottle of spice for a lot of money, but I get my spice for one to three dollars per pound.  These are Indian brands or direct imports by the international market for consumption by the local immigrant community.  I may not get the “comfort” of a familiar brand, but that’s relatively unimportant.  If a spice brand is good enough for people in (or from) India, it’s good enough for me.  The quality is there.

English: Brazilian Linguiça or pork sausage on...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But instead of seeking good deals, many Americans buy (literally) the food companies’ advertising.  The grocery stores keep telling us how much of a bargain their prices are and the manufacturers also bombard us with messages about their products’ quality and budget friendliness.  And people absorb these messages unquestioningly.

So, I was visiting some friends one time and decided to bring some sausage from a local mom-and-pop butcher shop run by immigrants.  (Usually, my friends supply all the food for everyone; this doesn’t seem right.)  The sausage at this shop costs 30-40% less than what the grocery store sells.  It’s also fresher and of much higher quality.  However, my friend (who is not poor by any means) responded self-righteously to my contribution and did so with more than a little discomfort; he had agreed to let me bring food but I think he overestimated his ability to deal with it.

Some people who aren’t rich take their economic status as a sign of virtue; my friend was no exception.  It also didn’t help that people have learned to equate price and quality.  I brought better stuff, which somehow meant that I was flaunting my “higher” status.   (Um… I’ve been unemployed for a while and wasn’t rich before that, but no matter.)   I recommended the store and mentioned the lower prices but my words fell on deaf ears.  “Our prudent Kroger is better than your profligate place, you scum.”  Or something like that.

If that’s not snobbery, I don’t know what is.

If you want to spend the extra money to finance a world of wonderful advertisements, be my guest.  I’d rather spend the cash on something useful, or perhaps keep it in my bank account.  I’m a big fan of frugality, but I guess that makes me a snob too.

Fear of Zombie Food Insults My Intelligence

I am a zombie.

My pleasant demeanor won’t inspire you to say that.  Instead, it’s my dinner.  I recently cooked brains.

Brain1

Mmmmmm. Nice pink squishy brains glistening under the kitchen light. I bought these pork brains at a local international market without realizing that they aren’t healthy. The two-pound package contains at least two months’ worth of cholesterol. Maybe that’s why the undead like to eat brains; it’s the diet that killed them and they’re feeling nostalgic.

Since I’ve already spent the money for these brains, I ought to eat them. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to figure out a way to make them healthier. Per the cooking instructions I found online, I started by soaking them for an hour. If you ever do this, have a big pot handy because the water turns into slime if you don’t use enough.

Then, I drained the brains and added new water. Time to boil them for 5 minutes. The water quickly returned to a somewhat slimy state and, as the water heated up, lots of foam formed at the top. Tasty:

Brainfoam

The water took forever to boil, probably because it had become so thick. It eventually started bubbling and, after five minutes, I was draining the water again. Yummy looking, right?

Brainboiled

Now for the creative part. I had purchased a bottle of peanut oil to use with the brains. I chose peanut oil because it was on sale. You could use olive, vegetable, or anything else that’s healthier than cholesterol and pork fat. I pour most of the bottle into the pot with my brains and cook at a moderate temperature for about 45 minutes.

You may be wondering why I would add so much oil to a recipe if I’m trying to make it healthier. I remember seeing an article once that recommended cooking ground beef in vegetable oil. By doing that, you’re dissolving the bad fat into the oil and, when you put the meat in a colander, a lot of the unhealthy stuff is drained out. This seemed to work with the brains; after the 45 minutes, the liquid in the pot bore no resemblance to the golden peanut oil I had poured into it. I’m still waiting for my colander to forgive me, though.

Interestingly enough, the brains did not fry crispy when left in a pot of hot oil for so long. I suppose brains are the eternally squishy food and, if your home is ever attacked by zombies, you can take this dish off of your dinner table and offer the zombies a bribe that at least somewhat resembles the fresh product they’re used to. Think of it as your home’s second security system.

But I digress. After making the brains somewhat healthier, it’s time to make them suitable for consumption by living humans. You may not be aware of the fact, but people in China and Korea eat brains as part of their regular diet. I’ve also heard of European recipes; Portuguese comes to mind immediately. Instead of the basic scrambled egg with brains that most people start with, I think I’ll spice mine up a little more. (When in doubt, be inspired by the ethnicity that usually eats a product.) So: soy sauce, breast milk, ginger, onion, garlic and a little fish sauce.

Just kidding about the breast milk. What do you think I am? Some sort of looney with no sense of propriety? I’m also quite certain that the Chinese, Koreans, and Portuguese don’t put breast milk in their food either.

So, back to reality. In case you’ve never heard of fish sauce, it comes from fermented anchovies and, on its own, tastes and smells like the bubonic plague. You’re supposed to use it sparingly in recipes to add extra umami and salt; I probably used a quarter of a teaspoon.

Here’s the final product that I dumped over my noodles:

Braincooked

As you can see, the consistency resembled oatmeal with a few extra chunks. I know brains are supposed to come out creamy, but this seems a little excessive. Perhaps the quasi-deep-fry caused this. The brains tasted excellent but I won’t cook them again because my arteries won’t let me. Besides which, the brains contained tiny pieces of skull; I don’t think I’d buy brains from that international market again.

Afterthoughts

My mind wanders to one other topic when I think of eating organ meats. If you go to a regular grocery store, almost no one sells any of this: liver, hearts, brains, intestines, uteri, kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads, rocky mountain oysters. There’s a thing or two I’ve tried and didn’t like and there’s one in particular (uteri) that supposedly tastes horrific. But generally, these are tasty and more nutritious than the fast food so many people eat on a regular basis. They also usually cost less than almost everything in the meat case. And, as far as I know, this stuff gets thrown out with the garbage.  (On second thought, maybe it doesn’t end up in the garbage.  Possible recipients include the pink slime companies and McDonald’s.)

People following religious dietary guidelines (Jews, Muslims) legitimately avoid organ meats, but I have less understanding for the rest of us. You may be thinking “Oh, that sounds so gross!” If so, I can find you something less gross to eat.

Here, have a puppy.

Seriously, though, what part of a chicken do you think an egg comes from? You’re eating a cute little baby peep every time you make an omelet! And that peep emerged from the least appetizing side of a hen.

I don’t expect organ meats to catch on anytime soon in the United States unless you count the pink slime that goes into so much processed food. At the very least, someone could be donating these animal parts to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. I’m sure the recipients would be grateful for it as long as you don’t tell them what it is. Or maybe even if you do. Last I checked, homeless people tend to be thankful for anything they’re given.

So much waste.  If it’s good enough for zombies, it’s good enough for homeless people.